Uh-oh. I just submitted my first grant application (a small, in-house grant to do pilot studies) for spider research. This might be getting serious.
In more routine news, I added a new fellow to my stable today: Larry. He’s now savoring a meal before I throw him to the loving mercies of the lady spiders.
In case you were curious about how to identify spider sex, I’ll explain below the fold.
It is so easy. In zebrafish, it’s all about subtle differences in size and color — gold vs. silver shading. Or you can put them on the scope and look at the male’s intromittent organ, but they don’t much like that. With spiders, you just look for the great big mustache: the enlarged palpal bulbs at the ends of the pedipalps, which, when I look at the little guys with a hand lens, look like prominent, dark swellings on their face. Like this:
Also, all spider sex is oral sex. The males load up their face with semen — it’s sort of like masturbating and then slathering the semen on their jaws — and then they jump on the females and stuff their big ol’ pedipalps into the epigyne (the female genitalia). That, and that the males are about half the size of the females, makes them easy to spot.
Now you know more than you ever wanted.
It’s been a good day for spider hunting! Two new additions: Betty and Fred, who are now busy getting it on in the lab. I think I know what we’re going to name the next pair.
Also, all credit goes to Mary, who has been getting mildly obsessive about prowling the garage, looking for new spiders to add to the team.